26 Mar 2009 - Rod's Diary - Chile

As dictated on Monday 23rd

It's a longish flight down to Santiago from Brasilia, it's about four hours but part of it was flying over the Andes where the view was amazing. We had to start out descent coming over the mountains to Santiago airport so we were pretty low and got the most amazing view of the mountain ranges with views of extinct (?) volcanoes blown apart. We landed and the airport was very much like last time - for some reason or other, unlike the other countries where we tend to do the immigration on the plane and get into the vans on the tarmac, the Chilean Airport Authorities insist on having us go the whole length and breadth of the airport as if we're being paraded out for everyone to gawp at. The whole inside of the airport is airport staff and it seemed that everybody had to have an autograph to let us get through, which gets a bit much after travelling for hours. There were loads of fans outside again (and these guys we do like to see!), you'll see in the movie what it was like last time so I won't go into it more, but they are incredible, absolutely incredible fans down here.

So finally we get out of the place and get to the hotel, it's one of our favourite hotels in the world and we've always stayed here. It's just stunning - it's very friendly, good facilities and a really good outside bar area which is the focus of activity. Pretty well as soon as we got here it was down to the bar, everyone was delighted to get back and we had quite a prolonged evening. Bruce was very pleased to find there was a conference here of the Air Traffic Controllers Worldwide, so there were a load of Americans and Aussies and Kiwis (who I had long talks about rugby with of course!), so Bruce was in his element, getting contacts so maybe as we fly around the world we'll get even better access and we'll get let into the airports more quickly for the landings. Or so we hope!! Great bunch of people though and good company for a few bevvies.

It was quite a late night so I woke up the next day feeling particularly groggy, got some breakfast and did a bit of work. Managed to get an hour or so in the sun, which I think is about the first time! At 1.15 Nicko and I were leaving to do a playback of the movie in a cinema for the label here (EMI) and some retail and some media. It was supposed to be a 15 minute journey - we left slightly late at about 1.20 and got there at five past two having been completely lost. They couldn't find the access to the cinema, we went through three car park towers up and down the ramps until they found the right car park. There was definitely steam coming out of four ears in the car, that's for sure. When we got there matters didn't improve. The cinema looked very very good, the people were there... I had a special Blu Ray with me that had Spanish subtitles, it was put in the machine and lo and behold it was a square picture. Everyone was looking nice and thin (I quite liked that) and it just obviously looked very silly. The plane looked like a dart and there was no way we were going to show people a movie that we're this proud of when it's been squashed up on the screen. Apparently the reason they did it here was that the sound was so good, but how can anyone possibly think we'd have something shown that's visually incorrect? Personally I think it's ridiculous. So it ended up with me and Nick having to apologise to the media for having them down here and it being such an obvious fuck up. Went back to the hotel having wasted a whole two hours and achieving absolutely nothing, so not in the best of moods. Did a bit of work and finished off the Belo Horizonte diary and it was time to head down to the show. Bruce and Steve had already gone down, the rest were going down later so I went down by myself. The traffic was pretty clear, there were a lot of people outside as we got close to the venue, not in queues just sitting outside bars and getting ready (this was about six and we were due on stage at 8pm).

We were playing on the Club Hipico Racecourse (for horses this time, not Formula One!) -- last year we played in a small football stadium capacity about 30,000 which sold out 3 months in advance so we needed a bigger place. We had been hoping to play the 50,000 Stadium Nacional this time, it is right next to the one we played last year but is huge. They had been refurbishing for years but it was finally ready . But, sod's Law,  the local team had a game on the day we needed so we had to go to the racecourse though that worked out just great. Also , as we were returning so quickly and to so many more people, we shipped in the full Euro/USA show for the fans there -- it's a long way and an expensive undertaking as we had to air freight in as it wont of course all fit on the plane (otherwise we would have it everywhere!) . But these guys sure deserved that effort.

We entered the racecourse which was pretty magnificent, it was a great venue and very well set out. The promoter down here, Jose, who works in conjunction with Evenpro and Phil Rodriguez our Latin American promoters, did a terriffic job. The whole backstage area was first class, the food was excellent, even the detail of having pictures of waterfalls in front of the urinals to assist your... personal waterfall ...was very amusing. More to the point, the production was excellent - there were five huge screens, there were big delay systems to get to the back... We knew there were going to be well over 55,000 people, I still don't know the final numbers but there were 53 that morning. I've seen some reviews this morning, a number of which commented on how great the sound was and how clear it was three kilometres away!!. This was a really big day in Chilean rock history, the reviews say (in the nationals) that this was a day for the rock and metal fan, that hey're always treated (like in the rest of the world) as being roughnecks and such like, you know - into fights and getting drunk, the usual caricature that outsiders get and a long way from reality. So the rock fans here are sick of the pop culture, of having pseudo-rock bands on pop radio pretending they're real. It wasn't just a Maiden concert, I think it became a movement of the rock fans to show that in this country they are a great force and they do know how to enjoy a concert without any problems. Other than a tiny minority that we'll get to later, that was indeed the case.

We checked the queues outside as well to make sure we didn't have a repeat of what happened in Sao Paulo where there were so many people that they couldn't all get in on time . The entrances round the racecourse were very good, the whole thing was very secure. There was security around but it wasn't in your face. As the time to get on stage drew closer the excitement mounted - looking out from on-stage it looked incredible, truly memorable!

So about ten minutes prior to showtime I went to the mixing desk, there was a walkway, a channel up from the pit to the desk and laterally to the sides. The whole place was absolutely rammed, there were kids in the front areas who'd been queueing overnight so they could get in first and get to the front barrier. Into Aces High the places was going nuts, but as the songs went on more and more people were being taken over the barrier to get out as it was so crammed from behind. Ideally they'd have taken people who were being squashed out over the barrier and out from the back of the mixing desk or the lateral channels. But it was so packed there that is was impossible so they were being led to the front pit and then out to the sides. Of course, as some people further back caught on they realised you could get into the channel and walk down there and try and stay there so they're right in front of the stage and even to the extent of staying in the pit. So it all started building up and so by Trooper I left the mixing desk, which was a shame cos I was enjoying the show, the sound was fantastic and everything was going really well. I fought my way through to get up on the side of the stage and we cut a hole in the side drapes so I could see out clearly. It was becoming a bit crazy and did get crazier. There were more and more people trying to get down the channel, and there was about a hundred hardcore of idiots who just would not move out of the pit, spoiling it for all those at the front who came really early go get to the barrier, and distracting the band by all the scuffles. A hundred or so  people out of 55, 60 thousand who want to behave like arseholes and cause problems for everyone else and affecting the quality of the show. About 0.15%. So the security guys at the venue - and my boys all joined in, everybody including our production manager and even Phil Rodriguez - went down trying to clear the front pit. Now the pit is there for safety, so we can get fans over the barrier if they're squashed and get them out of the sides. Also we've got cameras in there filming the guys for the screens - if you get too many people in there jostling they're going to get knocked over or at the least it's going to get jerky - it's going to affect the show. So these minority of idiots started to be a real problem. I was watching from through the gap right above them, and we got a whole mass of security to push them out from the front pit, but round to the side it got narrower so we couldn't clear them out, which meant it blocked anyone else from getting out.

CROWD VIDEO CLIPS - ONE | TWO | THREE (Quicktime)

At some point, I don't know who alerted them, but from the corner of my right eye I saw four Carabineros - the riot police - coming along the front of the stage from the right, with the helmets and the visors and the sticks.... One of them went past  our security guys and as soon as these hundred wankers saw them, they ran. From then on, the pit was clear. There were also thirty more Carabineros marching single file (which was quite a sight!) through the backstage area, and they positioned themselves right along the front of the stage. From then, it just took off! Before then it had started to get a bit flat cos the band were so distracted by these idiots. Again, it's a minority, it's people we don't want at our shows.

Once the Carabineri got there, the band just took off - there weren't the distractions so they could relax and play. All the kids down the front who'd been there for 24 hours to get these positions, you could see the relief cos they didn't have these people standing right in front of them causing aggravation. So they looked really relaxed, they had the Carabineros right in front of them but they looked very very happy to be able to enjoy the concert and the music in peace!! The Carabineri themselves were completely non-threatening by now, they stood there, looked round and watched the show for a little bit.... people talk about security in negative terms quite often but I thought the way the general show security behaved seemed to be very good. The trouble makers certainly weren't real fans - you could tell earlier in the pit, the real fans who needed to were going out without causing trouble cos they knew that that's what you do. It was just this small group of morons.

So the concert settled down and it really rocked. The band were great from then on, everyone was having a fantastic time. From on-stage the audience was absolutely magnificent, to see such a sea of people all jumping up and down at the same time, arms in the air, clapping in time was just an awesome sight that I'll never forget. A whole sea of activity. The audience obviously loved it and certainly the reviews have been outstanding this morning

Usual thing afterwards, we came straight off stage into the vans and left with a police escort as usual. As we went out there were the Carabineros on horses along the way, the kids were coming out and cheering and waving as we went by  - no hassle at all. Back to the hotel for a number of beers... an absolutely memorable show, I'll never forget what it looked like from up there. I'll never forget the idiots either or the way they ran off at the first sight of the Carabineros - I wish we could sort those people out so they could never again come to our concerts. As l have said many times, the family of Maiden fans are there for the camaraderie and the music, not to create a hassle. Thank you Chile - it was fantastic.

This is my last show for a couple of weeks, I'm going to fly out tonight (it's now Monday morning) to Barbados and join my family for a few days, to catch part of the school holiday and spend some time with them, which will be nice. I'll go back for the Florida show as it's the last show of the tour, it's only four hours up to Miami, and I'll fly back with the boys arriving back home on the 4th. So in the meantime I'm going to donate this little dictaphone to Mister David Pattenden, who has promised me that the illustrious Mr McBrain will be doing a wonderful job of filling in for me, so you'll probably have a lot more laughs with him than you get with me anyway. So enjoy his diaries, I'll be back in touch after Florida, hopefully you'll get one from me and Nick on this final show. It promises to be great, it's already nearly sold out which is really good cos we haven't been in Florida for so long. Bye for now!.

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